The California Wild Fires – A Looming Environmental Threat

Clean-up efforts are underway following the devastating Northern California wildfires of last month. Early damage estimates are in the $3-6 billion dollar range. While property damage estimates continue to be updated, Cal Fire reports that 8,400 structures were destroyed by the fires that spanned 245,000 acres.

The health impact on residents and workers, as well as the impact to the environment during cleanup efforts from toxins and fire residue in the air and watershed are serious concerns.

Asbestos siding, treated wood products, lead and other …

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Garden State Leads the Nation in Adopting the Strictest MCLs for PFOAs

A couple of random things you might not know about Jersey.

We’ve got great tomatoes, corn, and peaches, and some of the strictest environmental regulations in the country. By way of example, the NJ DEP now leads the nation in setting the lowest Maximum Contaminant Limits (MCL) of 14 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOAs (perfluorooctanoic acid) — a chemical used in the manufacture of consumer products that essentially everyone has used, such as nonstick cookware, food packaging, stain resistant furniture, dental floss, breathable fabrics, …

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PCB Suit Under Federal Waste Statute Gets Court Go-Ahead

In a decision that may invigorate the plaintiffs’ bar, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled that the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulates polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The decision in Liebhart provides the plaintiffs with a simpler path to an award of damages in their case and allows the plaintiffs to litigate their other state-law based claims in federal court.

PCBs have flame retardant characteristics and were used in a variety of products, including electrical equipment, hydraulic oils, paints, and caulks. However, PCBs have been …

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Not Just for Delivering Packages, Drones Prove Critical in Damage Assessment and Disaster Recovery Efforts

Recreational use of drones has been around for several years now, and Amazon has even toyed with its delivery applications. However, in recent months, the application of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has timely expanded to more practical and even life-saving uses. By August 31, 2017 — just a few days after Hurricane Harvey — the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had issued 43 UAS authorizations to drone operators supporting the response and recovery for Hurricane Harvey or covering it as part of the media, with the …

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The Empire Strikes Back? Oil Interests Make Push Against Pro-Biofuels Appointments to the USDA

Midwestern agriculture interests were concerned when former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was appointed to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Gov. Perdue was the first Southerner to be appointed to head the USDA since 1994. The majority of the recent U.S. agriculture secretaries have come from the Midwest, including former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. The Midwest has been able to rely on the USDA to help support its interests in biofuels, an increasingly important component in corn and other …

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The EPA’s Draft Strategic Plan — Part of the Rebalance?

In May, we wrote about the intentions of EPA director Scott Pruitt to rebalance the EPA. At the time, we reported on the speech Pruitt delivered at CERAWEEK, an annual conference involving leaders in industry, energy, the financial sectors, and government.

In early October, the EPA released a Draft Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2018-2022. This draft, released for public comment and review, echoes the comments made by Pruitt during CERAWEEK, including the three goals (listed below) to support the EPA’s “core mission” …

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Contaminated Water Supply Continues to Plague Puerto Rico

More than a month after Hurricane Maria reached Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 as a strong Category 4 hurricane, its catastrophic environmental effects continue to be felt as new problems complicate relief efforts. As of the middle of October 2017, approximately 35 percent of residents in Puerto Rico had no access to clean water. Relief teams began distributing water from a well at the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site, which had been on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund list as recently as 2016. Although …

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Di-can’t-a Part 2: Enter the Plaintiff’s Bar

In July, the Environmental Law Monitor reported on regulatory responses to the herbicide dicamba from Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Dicamba has been a hot button topic in the farming/agricultural world, which often finds itself at the busy intersection of environmental and toxic tort issues. As many of you know, dicamba is an herbicide that’s been in use for decades, but in the past couple of years suppliers have designed certain types of crops that are genetically modified to tolerate having the chemical sprayed on them. …

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Environmental Due Diligence for M&A Transactions

Part 1-Introduction

A common purchase in the United States is a car, something necessary for many of us to get to work, travel to the grocery store, pick-up kids at school — among the thousands of destinations where Americans use their car. When we buy a car, we often do an investigation, so to speak. We do online research on the vehicles that peak our interest, we inspect the vehicle at the dealership, we ask questions of the dealer, and we test-drive the car. We …

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2017 CLM Southeast Conference 

On November 2nd and 3rd in Atlanta at the CLM Southeast Conference, Goldberg Segalla Partner George Buermann, CEO Dawn Krigstin, Envoy Specialty LLC, and Senior Vice President Philip Watters, P.E., Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. will hold a panel discussion on “Environmental Cost Recovery Actions and Spill Litigation.”  The discussion will be geared towards addressing the myriad of challenges that face insurers and insureds in CERCLA /Superfund matters and other similar state actions and offering tips that will position your company in …

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